The cartoon, inside an article on Iran's nuclear program, depicts US President Barack Obama shackled to Congress, represented by the Congressional seal, while reaching out to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who himself is being held back by the ayatollahs and militants burning the American flag.
The Congressional seal is based on the United States' Great Seal, and, as shown in the cartoon, includes bald eagle clutching arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. The actual seal includes several stars around the border, which also appear in the Economist cartoon. What does not appear on the seal - but does in the cartoon - is a Star of David, implying that Congress is controlled by Jews with a pro-Israel agenda.
"The Economist cannot repair the damage of publishing an anti-Semitic image with only half-measures," said a statement by ADL chief Abe Foxman. "They owe their readers a full-throated apology, which not only acknowledges the offensive nature of the cartoon but explains to readers why this image implying Jewish control was so outrageous and hurtful."
The ADL director accused the Economist of giving prominence to centuries-old anti-Jewish stereotypes.
"This was nothing less than a visual representation of the age-old anti-Semitic canard of Jewish control. And it conjures up yet another classic anti-Semitic myth — the accusation that Jews have “dual loyalty” and will act only on behalf of Israel to the detriment of their own country," he wrote.
Foxman said the cartoon was a reflection of what he alluded to as the magazine's untrustworthy reporting on Israel.
"The Economist already has a credibility problem when it comes to Israel. The fact that this cartoon passed editorial muster without raising red flags raises serious questions about its editorial judgment and the possibility of a more deeply ingrained bias against the Jewish State."
The magazine has removed the caricature from the article itself, replacing it with a split image of Obama and Rohani. Nonetheless, it remains in a prominent location on the website's Middle East page.
This is not the first time that British publications have been accused of using anti-Semitic imagery in their illustrations. In 2002, The New Statesman magazine was fiercely condemned for its cover image of a Star of David being driven into the center of the British flag. The accompanying headline read: "A kosher conspiracy?"
A year later, at the height of the intifada, the Independent newspaper published a cartoon of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, in which the late Israeli leader was depicted eating a Palestinian baby.
Britain's Press Complaints Commission cleared the newspaper of anti-Semitism, after numerous protests from Israel and Jewish organizations who said the image invoked the ancient anti-Semitic blood libel.